Moulin Musing


St.Germain-des-Bois 1999

May 31
Who wants yesterday's weather?
We're back at the moulin after a confusing week. But everything breathed a more sane life when we arrived last night. The green pushed hard in our absence. If you want to know what drives the process of growth, you need to know yesterday's weather. For infinite learning you have to look in all directions, not only where the signs of consensus point: so much the Rotterdam workshops taught, as does my green. Here change is continuous. I took the high road back from R+r's school, to see the new colours of the fields, new volumes of green and red and yellow that shape the ponds and hills along the way. In our garden the smell of roses is almost as penetrating as was the smell of rose hips blossom, yesterday, along the tollway from Arras to Reims, where R+r and myself (Gilberthe stayed behind to arrange the Amsterdam appartment) sped along all windows down. Summer announces itself with bright skies, high temperatures and a lower water level than I've seen here before.

In nqp#12 (up in some days) I will look back at the past week in more detail. The rest of this day will be for acclimatization, cleaning up and playing around. Finding back, in a place I've only lived for two months now—a place I've hardly begun to get to know—cherished objects and books and furniture, all the familiar attributes of my life, some of which have been with me for all of its length, some of which I only rediscovered when moving here, some of which I never leave alone, is quite an amazing discovery. This support structure, this exoskeleton moved here with us, to a new place to operate from, a new ecology, where new stories will be built within it and thrive around it.

R+r didn't want to go back to school today. I promised to pick them up at noon and spend the day with them. We'll re:acclimatize together.

May 22
Heavy with goodbye
This morning the water was back at the normal level. But at the Clamecy Saturday morning's green market yesterday's Beuvron rise was the talk of the day. The woman of the biological goat farm up the road informed whether we had kept dry. It's funny to witness more people knowing you every week. In a small community like the Clamecy canton you meet at the market. At the bank in Varzy last Thursday the guy at the desk shook my hand before transfering my money. Bonjour Monsieur, how are you, what can I do for you? (he's the guy who made my photocopies last time). They serve you at face value: after opening the account last summer I never had to identify, not even when I ordered a credit card.

Again: I hate to leave. I stored Intelligence's, Service's and Estate's (my harddisks) Jaz back-ups in the safe; I MVC-ed my hardware and some antiques and bookshelves, and put the Mavica and the floppy and other camera's also in the safe; set some timers to switch lights on and off; checked the shutters; Gil packed the car. We'll drop the key at the Follopes for them to pass by next week. To leave this place, even for a few days, being here only since 30 March, feels odd. But Willem de Kooning is waiting for me and I hope to spend some time with some A. and R. friends. Just a few days ago I thought about some sites I know very well from my daily routines in A. and it felt like thinking of any big city I know from occasional visits, NY, Paris, SF, anyplace. I'd just as much like to phone to these places, as to go there now. Like when I talked to Andrea, = Broome Street SoHo, the other day, from the Burgundy backwaters, around midnight.

May 21
Heavy with water
Water's all yellow and on the rise since last night when we (and other regions upstream as well, I suspect from the water level) had heavy rainfall. I opened the mill's three locks all the way up, and hope it is safe to leave here in a day or some. Rather I'd see the level drop before, especially since the Follopes are on holliday so I can't ask him to keep an eye. It's an unusual level for this time of year. As a precaution we'll move all the goods in the basement 20cm up. So boxes on the table and off to the church for prayer...

placeholder, now what gave you the idea we're in Burgundy France? See the kind of trouble we're facing here? Hell and high water...

Water rose all day until around 7pm. Just when it was about to spill over the dam to the faux rivière it halted, maybe dropped a few cms. I had removed some large trunks that came down and blocked the upstream lock. Also I drove down to Clamecy with R+r to see the Yonne instream of the Beuvron. Water was high there too, but they hadn't even all the lock open... Must have to do with a larger scale water maintenance interest. I suppose. All I wanted was the level to drop. Tonight it seemed like the water speed went up, the level dropped just a bit, it roared from below the kitchen window. Maybe it got more space downstream. At 10.45pm, from the bureau where I'm writing and preparing for our leave for NL, I hear a clear cricket nearby and a soft rumble at the other side of the house. And harddisk fans.

May 20
Heavy with bits
Good thing I'm leaving for Rotterdam soon, which allows me to take a break from nqp. #12 is already preformatted and waiting to be filled, while this one is becoming a too heavy load for most connections. But I hate to leave the precious estate. On est bien ici.

May 19
Sat down in the evening, lit the fire and read the Sites+Situations reader and browsed Flusser's Subject to Project. Consumed water and coffees and une larme Marc the Bourgogne.

May 18
More Speculation
Go see for yourself at the below URL. I like to work this way, getting myself into deadline trouble, giving it a go straight into Pagespinner, some design refinement for absolute low HTML minimalism... And a map to return to, to refine some thoughts on public art and design strategies, at the other 4 corners of the world.

Meanwhile, in Burgundy. We had the first thunderstorm in the early evening, after a splendid day. When we picked up R+r at school we saw it suddenly approach from the far south-west. Taking the road over the hilltop we halted the car to see the lightning reflect on the clouds over the hills. It took another 3 hours to get right above the moulin, with some heavy rainfall, after which we saw it slowly disapear to the north-east. Still around 10 there were distant bursts of light reflecting on the dark grey-blue sky, and remote rumble.

May 17
Sites of Speculation
Today I've mainly been preparing the Sites of Speculation files at Now there's only a scheme, which is going to be linked to other files before I leave here next week-end. But it shows some important relations as is.

May 16
Le flottage à bûches perdues
As early as 17thC Paris stoves burnt wood from the Haut Morvan forests. To transport it north the Canal de Nivernais was to be constructed between 1784 and 1842.

Clamecy wood collection from the canal
placeholder, arrival of the flottes at Clamecy: where there's water, there's wood...

To get to Clamecy from the Morvan so called 'flottes à bûches perdues' ('lost logs fleet') were the transport of choice: throwing in producer-tagged lumps upstream and guiding them down from the shores. Today we joined a festival in a prairie outside Vauclaix to commemorate this once big mode of transport and industry, of which Clamecy is the capital. Very enjoyable local color. An exhibition set up under a blue party tent (where I shot the above IMG), arts, crafts and old habits in an unpretentious environment.

the wood starts its flow down the river
placeholder, did we get wet today

I like the perdue aspect of this transport. We have to learn to do perdue, for the hell of it. There's perdue in potlatch, there's perdue in the web—and I bet there's some self-organization avant-la-lettre in these log fleets.

May 15
Little Sparta revisited
In today's Alamut Paul commented on the frequent 'pilgrimages' to our place. This morning when I pondered the use of the land and the house, looking for competition, I took out Ian Hamilton Finlay's books and remembered my visit in 1992. There's different codes of access at work. And relative separatism. Finlay never was very outgoing before he moved to Dunsyre: 'certain gardens are described as retreats, when they are really attacks', he's quoted. Interestingly he always established contacts with the outside world through (his own, collaborative) media: the Wild Hawthorn Press; the Poor. Old. Tired. Horse periodical; innumerable printed matter. The garden and the media are an interesting pair. Different speeds and directions at work on each other's behalf. Controled circulation.

C'est toujours les autres qui meurent (Marcel Duchamp)
It's always the others who die. Death is a grotesque end to the twisted dynamics of life. An end to all possibilities, an end specifically to (the possibility of, or illusion of) freedom. It's not an end to change however: death comes in many colors that even change after decease. Art vv. life is death. Every 'work' is an end to possibility. Again I have to (indirectly) quote Valéry, in this case the clever title that his tekstbezorger (no english equivalent available, for 'one who delivers another one's text'), S. Dresden, gave to a collection of essays: 'Wat af is, is niet gemaakt'; 'what is finished, isn't made', from an idea of making as progress, unfinished for ever, a live art that even doesn't need the tag 'art' per se. Poiesis, is making, not 'art'.

The artefact is a dead object. Death Lite, as it were. A toy. Through it, you can play with death from life, when you can't play with life from death. Borges taught us that art can only be done in dead languages. The trickster (artist) slips in and out of death. He can change life for death and the other way around. My flirtation with stagnation is not a flirtation with death however, but with relative speeds. Standstill is in the momentum of a change of direction. Standstill affords to see life hurry by. Standstill comes as no surprise, to the escape artist.

I'm a newbie with death. The night after I smoked (and burnt) the bees from my chimney, I dreamt of a fire in a cafetaria in which the people on their bar stools melted together. Not a pretty sight.

The School is Loose; or, Stagnation Makes Perfect
Ça coule (counter-stagnation coulance) . Woke up early brimming with inspiration for the new school moulin. Catering for the mind, soul and body.

'Ne pas changer les habitudes', neighbouring Christian collecting the hay with his own key to our land next to gate; Monsieur Braquet, from Thurigny, fishing for trout in our river. I caught him this morning, when I had sent him away a week ago. We were both early birds today. I went out in gown and boots and surprised him in the river. He told me he knew the former owner and that he is a contracter like him. So what, but I let him go about until I speak to Jean-Bernard. 'Don't allow anyone to fish for your trout' he told me. But Christian friendly suggested: don't change the habits, ne pas changer les habitudes.

May 14
Perfect day. Balanced stimuli, rewarding action, things gotten done, money gotten spent (6,500FF on 3,500ltrs of fioul, or fuel, for the central heating that last night shut down for some odd reason—not a lack of fuel, we'll see about that tomorrow). This morning when I got dressed I had my first bee sting, from the little basterd that hid in my pants. R+r to school all day. Tonight we played with the Duplo train that we bought way cheap yesterday at the Couy vide grenier. The boys love crashes, everybody loves crashes.

Crash Dummies Are Go: Habit vs. Pathology
Virilio's much quoted 'invention of A equals the invention of the anti-A' (aircraft=crash) seems applicable to habits and (their) pathologies, or a general tendancy of good turning bad, sweet turning sour, the collapse of the erected. Unless bad is desired and thus good turns better (or bad turns out good). Bored with good we turn bad ourselves. Selfdepreciation hits. Boredom is as good a motor as any. So when things don't turn bad, we get bored with them: out comes progress, invention, creativity and crash aesthetics.

The habit of progress happily crashes in the aesthetic standstill. Things that die in beauty. Like my Ikebana.

Tags: Of Habit: off-habit. Crypt'Autonomy. Crash-Progress. Distributed memory loss. U-turn Eulogy vs. U-bet Euphemism.

stilstand is vooruitgang
Or, 'stagnation makes headway', when generally is believed that it 'means decline'. I would like to research the possibility of progressive (near) standstil. U-turns at full speed tend to end in catastrophe, in any vehicle. Yet U-turns, or more fuzzy changes of direction, or the acknowledgement of different affordances to guide the direction and speed of cultural production, lead to alternative achievements. Waiting for singularity is no option. Subconscious contributions to the coming about (and if so—Kosovo-style?) of Singularity are inavoidable, but why not be hyper aware of the effect of our preferences and protocols: how they bring our acts to hold, or speed them up, or guide our objectives. By 'learning to learn to do' I mean to escape (as 'competent' artists traditionally tend to do) faux genius (net.)academia and its Theory-that-Knows-No-Practice-but-The One-that-Does-Good:

-The true value of 'theories' is not theoretical value. But real effect.
(from: Paul Valéry Les principes d'an-archie pure et appliquée, 1936-38)

At relative speed, we move in relative directions: these are always measured against historical 'evidence', or 'proclaimed' futures, or other consensus realitites. Any speed or direction can theoretically bring deliverance. That's why we live with so many of it.

A propos the traditional gap between idea and action (dream and deed): with new media and technologies and their cultural effects, this gap is exagerated in both hopeful and catastrophic images and delusions. Art and media/technology are depicted both with the gap finally bridged, as with a widening chasm between them. It's deliverance's admision of weakness.

So 'what's the frequency' tuning Radio Free StGdB? We know how to pump up the volume. Since there's no neighbours... Come the day we give a concert, a free festival. a potlatch.

May 13
Plus je pense plus je pense
'The more I think the more I think', Paul Valéry... with him I learn. Today we re:visited the little roadside restaurant just outside Clamecy where we go since we first set foot in the Beuvron valley. They prepared the 7 of us dinner, and left some for R+r to take to school for lunch tomorrow, when Joes, Marjolein and Linde leave for NL again...

May 12
Learning without Progress?
I'm interested in yesterday's or yesteryear's or yestercentury's discussion between Mr. Whistler and Mr. Wilde for a series of reasons. Let's have the keywords, please,
  1. re:autonomy
  2. Micro Progress
  3. Learning to learn to forget
  4. Zero Change
ad1. artists must free themselves, and save Art, from the Dr.Do-Goods in other disciplines, more specifically from the witless new technology/social change academia clique (where's asked: "What good shall it do?", re:art and re:media). Relative autonomy has to be found in art's proper 'milieu', however different this has to be from the existing art market and museum practice. Artists should change their milieu together with their art, instead of escaping to the social mob. There's tons of other people out there, stupid!

ad2. progress is in the details. Giant leaps can be left behind because they induce giant backfires. The invention of the airplane is the invention of the crash, to remind you of Virilio, and this goes for every ambitious progressive object or project. Micro progress is progress in context, it's like lots of small bits of progress that work together in a pattern, and proceed the milieu.

ad3. to learn to forget is to learn to be as arrogantly modest as to engage in collaborative learning to learn to do. It presupposes no lack of self esteem, no paranoia, and the ambition to contribute to absolute progress, be it in the details.

ad4. Zero change is no option, it is a fact of life. We haven't changed our discourse (just our jargon), as is illustrated in Whistler vs. Wilde, or in Stirner, both below. We are conditioned not to change our pattern of consumption, not to take risks, not to downshift, not to burn our ships, not to selfdestruct, not to re:evaluate: not to change spectacular fate.

And the questions,
Can we project learning without Progress?
Putting it differently: does learning per se involve progress, as a civilisation, a discipline, a family, an ontogroup, a mariage, or, is it the individual overcoming of ignorance repeated over and over again, the eternal re:invention of the wheel, so to say, without any broader progressive organizing, 'patterning' effect?
Will we ever learn to forget?
To forget progress, to forget change, to forget learning? To forget in order to listen, eg. to history, to the future, to our present selves, to urgencies that aren't loud like commodities?
  Progress BTW, is in the eye of the beholder. Learning isn't. There's absolute learning, moreover, there's absolute ignorance, as we see it performed as a daily routine. The ignorant have the loud mouths and adhere to the giant steps. We've seen this in art, we see this in new media. Semper idem. Contrary, absolute learning is circumstantional reasoning, communication, collaborative information gathering and detailed absolute articulation.

There's an idiosyncratic mix of aesthetic 'mysanthropy' and 'sociopathy' humming in the background. It's my private de:cadence, mea culpa, to quote Wilde and Perry, like my gut feeling, or intuition, and fatigue; or vanity, creativity, anger, arrogance—to just name some of my better features, none of which I 'learned' by tuition, BTW. When upon leaving in 1977 I described the Academy where I had been tutored since 1972 as 'a community of autodidactics', I expressed my idea of learning as information sharing, equal position mutual interest. collaborative working. 20 years later, I haven't as much progressed from this idea, as that I have learned, eg. that I was right then like I'm right now.

Learning is a collective experiential effort. It is communication. Practice is individual victory over learning. To put learning into practice means learning to learn to do ('what to know/what to do'), to do right, to re:invent learning and the object of learning. That's: learning by practice.

We never learned to move to France. Which goes before knowing how to move to France. We never learned to do 'move to France'. What we learned over time is the relative effect of change, we learned that change can do you good but that you should never expect all of it. We learned that we (G+J+R+r) can take risks: so we did before.

Learning is 'circumstantional reasoning', like in circumstantional evidence: it is interpretation of prior experience, reading clues, pattern recognition, applying experience to current situations, and individually: to know how skilled you are, how equiped, what kind of risks you can take, or want to take, how much information you can handle: how much you are willing to learn, to add to your experience, how much you want to 'do/learn'. How selfish you can be. Ne pas hésiter.

Now we know to move to France. We now not only know how to move to France (you calculate the costs, invite movers, box your stuff and schlepp, etc.—in other words, you re:invent the wheel)—most importantly we now know 'to do' move to France. Which is the all important thing to learn. Even if we would have to learn soon how to crawl back, or anywhere, out of France again.

Ability, skill, experience is not in what you learned (the curricular review), but in learning to learn, to do. What proves this is that I can not teach you to move to France; there's no reversal of process in the principle of learning/teaching. What I learn I can only teach in communication with another person learning. We are learning together. Taken a bit far from practical skills? Yes. And teaching by testimony?

For learning we have to turn to Bateson first of all. At Alamut they are re:reading him so I sort to them both, Gregory, Paul? I'll get my copy of Ecology of Mind out of the librarial mix soon.

If only the brightest minds learn (Bateson, Picasso—what's their brilliant difference?), and, what do we others do? Repeat after them and improve our petty lives? Or is it a question of scale: do we learn 'some' and they learn 'big'?

The End of Value Free?
Put it all in the mix and out comes a voice, squeeking, sighing, teasing, hiding, dumbing down and smarting up, brightening up and toning down. Tuning in, turning on and dropping out. The dream of autonomy is the dream of the value free. If anything we didn't learn to forget (to proclaim in our advantage), it is this dream of the value 'free', the value of freedom—still today, long after Stirner... (1845):

-Die Drang nach einer bestimmten Freiheit schliesst stets die absicht auf eine neue Herrschaft ein, wie denn die Revolution zwar "ihren Verteidiger das erhebende Gefühl geben konnte, dass sie für die Freiheit kämpften", in Wahrheit aber nur, weil man auf eine bestimmte Freiheit, darum auf eine neue Herrschaft, die "Herschafft des Gesetzes" ausging.   Freiheit wollt Ihr Alle, Ihr wollt die Freiheit. Warum schachert Ihr denn um ein Mehr oder weniger? Die Freiheit kann nur die ganze Freiheit sein; ein Stück Freiheit ist nicht die Freiheit. Ihr verzweifelt daran, dass die ganze Freiheit, die Freiheit von Allem, zu gewinnen sei, ja Ihr haltet's für Wahnsinn, sie auch nur zu wünschen? -- Nun, so lasst ab, dem Phantome nach zu jagen, und verwendet Eure Mühe auf etwas besseres, als auf das -- Unerreichbare.
(from: Max Stirner Der Einzige und sein Eigentum) (no translation available at the moment)

Eternal Return
Of temper. Of hope. Of mistake. Of delusion. Of enthusiasm. Of fatigue. Of power. Of effect. Of love. Et cetera. Semper idem. Poetic progress is in articulation Only.

May 11

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 1890
placeholder (width=100%), spine of my 1909 5th edition of the extraordinary book, first published in 1890 by angry JW, collecting his neverlasting battle with critics, the media, the public at large: To The rare Few, who, early in Life, have rid Themselves of the Friendship of the Many, these pathetic Papers are inscribed

Gentle Art
from: Whistler, James McNeill The Gentle Art of Making Enemies:

-If familiarity can breed contempt, certainly Art -- or what is currently taken for it -- has been brought to its lowest stage of intimacy.
  The people have been harassed with Art in every guise, and vexed with many methods as to its endurance. They have been told how they shall love Art, and live with it. Their homes have been invaded, their walls covered with paper, their very dress taken to task -- until, roused at last, bewildered and filled with the doubts and discomforts of senseless suggestion, they resent such intrusion, and cast forthe the false prophets, who have brought the very name of the beautiful into disrepute, and derision upon themselves.
  Alas! ladies and gentlemen, Art has been maligned. She has naught in common with such practices. She is a godess of dainty thoughts -- reticent of habit, abjuring all obtrusiveness, purposing in no way to better others.
  She is, withal, selfishly occupied with her own perfection only -- having no desire to teach -- seeking and finding the beautiful in all conditions and in all times, as did her high priest(s) (...) No reformers were these great men -- no improvers of the way of others! Their productions alone were their occupation, and, filled with the poetry of their science, they required not to alter their surroundings -- for, as the laws of their Art were revealed to them they saw, in the development of their work, that real beauty which, to them, was as much a matter of certainty and triumph as is to the astronomer the verification of the result, foreseen with the light given to them alone. In all this, their world was completely severed from that of their fellow-creatures with whom sentiment is taken for poetry; and for whom there is no perfect work that shall not be explained by the benefit conferred upon themselves.
  Humanity takes the place of Art, and God's creations are excused by their usefulness. Beauty is confounded with virtue, and, before a work of Art, it is asked: "What good shall it do?"
  Hence it is that nobility of action, in this life, is hopelessly linked with the merit of the work that portrays it; and thus the people have acquired the habit of looking, as who should say, not at a picture, but through it, at some human fact, that shall, or shall not, from a social point of view, better their mental or moral state. So we have come to hear of the painting that elevates, and of the duty of the painter -- of the picture that is full of thought, and of the panel that merely decorates.

Oscar Wilde, in reply (Pall Mall Gazette, Feb 21, 1885):

-Last night, at Prince's Hall, Mr. Whistler made his first public appearance as a lecturer on Art..... There were some arrows.... shot off.... and (O, mea culpa!) at dress reformers most of all..... That an artist will find beauty in uglyness, le beau dans l'horrible, is now a commonplace of the schools..... I differ entirely from Mr. Whistler. An Artist is not an isolated fact; he is the resultant of a certain milieu and a certain entourage, and can no more be born of a nation that is devoid of any sense of beauty than a fig can grow from a thorn or a rose blossom from a thistle..... The poet is the supreme Artist, for he is the master of colour and of form, and the real musician besides, and is lord over all life and all arts; and so to the poet beyond all others are these mysteries known; to Edgar Allan Poe and Baudelaire, not to Benjamin West and Paul Delaroche.....

JW comments in the margin of his reproduction of Wilde's critique, in 'Gentle Art':

REFLECTION: It is not enough that our simple Sunflower thrive on his "thistle"—he has now grafted Edgar Poe on the "rose tree of the early American Market in "a certain milieu" of dry goods and sympathy; and "a certain entourage" of worship and wooden nutmegs.   Born of a Nation, not absolutely "devoid of any sense of beauty"—Their idol—cherished—listened to—and understood!
  Foolish Baudelaire!—Mistaken Mallarmé! (JW's punctuation)

Also publicly he replies to OW, in The World:

-(...) Nothing is more delicate, in the flattery of "The Poet" to "The Painter," than the naiveté of "The Poet" in the choice of his Painters -- Benjamin West and Paul Delaroche!

Wilde discloses in a following contribution to The World that he discovered these names in a Biographical Dictionary, as examples of painters 'who rashly lectured upon Art (...), as of their works nothing at all remains, I conclude that they explained themselves away', and adds: 'Be warned in time, James; and remain, as I do, incomprehensible. To be great is to be misunderstood.' Marginal note by JW:

REFLECTION: I do know a bird, who, like Oscar, with his head in the sand, still believes in the undiscovered! If to be misunderstood is to be great, it was rash in Oscar to reveal the source of his inspiration: the "Biographical Dictionary!"

Excuse my dust, but I couldn't help picking up this book this afternoon. I will get back to it here, but first read on: it's a total delight and all's topical that's not been erased by time, or the Enemy.

Up The Frequency, ISOPCSD
In spite of PC stupid design, another upload succeeded this morning after some naming problems. Why do the names to my files change caps/lower case every time I copy or move them? I already bring them down to 8 characters max and add .htm instead of .html. Thank Jobs cs. for the Macintosh. He just revealed some new models, I gather. My magazine of choice is Mac related: SVM Mac, a French Macazine. I hadn't bought any fanzines the past years, but this one is French and has all the suppliers and typical French peripherals, like the Sagem ISDN router/adapter.

Friends R+r Us
Joes Keip calls in from 'somewhere north of Auxerre' that he and Marjolein Boterenbrood and Rolf and Roemer's best and eldest friend, their daughter Linde will arrive later this afternoon, to stay for several days. We share history with them: we fantasized in an early stage about living in France, instead all got pregnant at the same time without knowing about each other, delivering Rolf only two days after Roselinde, summer 1993. We had gotten to know them when we moved into Marjolein's studio in Amsterdam in 1985, when they traveled around the world for a year and a half. In recent years we shared a run down caravan in Bakkum. Tonight they'll park their van in our yard.

Magical Mystery Tour
At 9am the school bus arrives. R+r (Roemer's first voluntary ride) mount and off they are on their trip. They don't know where they're going. We know the goal of this excursion is another school, some 20km from here, where they are going to spend the morning with more French kids... singing more French songs, making more French drawings, and being exotic comme tout.

May 10
Bureaucratics in a cloud of smiles
Got my first French exhortation, from the EDF electricity people. And school would not take R+r on the class' field trip tomorrow, if they would not be properly insured for civic responsability. So we went to Clamecy, to do some insurance shopping and playing the ignorant foreigners at EDF. And we filled out the school's questionaires. Whether we would allow the teacher to decide to have performed surgery and total anesthesia on the boys, if vitally important? Who's the family doctor, which hospital to take them to? We don't know local medical ethics, or how quick on the anesthetics they are in Clamecy or Varzy. But we ok-ed, take them to the nearest doctor or hospital, and we hope for no accidents. There's 8,500 death in French traffic yearly: that's an absolute European record setting 25 per day! In a country this big, with only some 55M inhabitants. Copious lunches count for most of them. Class will return before noon, luckily.

So at the EDF the clerk of the day was all smiles. Together we signed several forms, which he was going to fill out for us later, automatic money tranfers et al. I left a cheque for our dues. If you don't understand them, trust them. That's how local we got in six weeks. We've been 'adopted', as they say here, and we adopt.

May 9
As Hugo Versloot was to mention, our fresh source water from the tap has distinct diuretic qualities: it makes you pee a lot. I try to get in (and out) 2ltr a day. It's part of changing the metabolism. Part of the health plan, like the aching oxygen doses I mentioned before. I gave up smoking, almost. I'm back to the occasional cigaret. Gauloise, blonde. It's so French. Then there's still the peanut butter, but ever more fresh green and different cheeses to be tried. We have the biological goat farm up the valley nearby (le Mazot). We often do warm lunch, with a glass of wine. No apéritives at 11.30 though. Breakfast means early large coffees with lots of milk. For a true farmer's diet, we should add more soup. The baker, who delivers at the door every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday (and leaves the bread on the wall at the gate, in case you're not home. Which got us a completely wet bread tomorrow, after nightly rains, when we had overlooked it today) once didn't sell us the large campagne bread, because she would sell it to a farmer, to go with the soup they were having—she knows her clientèle, she's one of them. 'What to know and how to know it', in a nutshell: community practice.

Went to the Sancergues brocante and flower market. Bought tomato, melon, cucumber plants. Saw the Loire again. She's a great river. Yet we were grumpy on the way back. Inventing four new lives isn't done overnight.

May 8
Left to ourselves again
Jan and Merel leave. There have been too many visitors in too short time: regardless of the individual pleasure they bring, overlapping should be avoided. We need space and time to ourselves, I can tell. When people get along together fine, it enhances everybody's wellbeing. Like with Kristi and John meeting Gilberthe's brother Erik and family. Some evenings when G. and myself were doing our things somewhere in the house you could hear outbursts of laughter from the dining room where they were playing card games. The guests were doing allright. Then the place feels like a temporary home to everyone, not necessarily mediated by our presence, which makes one happy.

Brain Drain?
My dad read in the NRC that the krauts hired Willem 'Mr. Mediamatic' Velthoven to be 'bijzonder hoogleraar' in Berlin. Duh... lobby rules reputation, is my first reaction. But then, let's not be sauer about it. All of us follow different paths. Some years ago I wouldn't have begrudged him such a position. But allergies come and go like bits on the web. And the wonderful wide world of once 'new media' looks more and more like any old world every day, as he was early to recognize, granted. So, Mach's Gut, Willem!

May 7
Spent a quiet day in and around the house. Went shopping for lamb and the ingredients for Jan's honey pancake. He's a great cook who learned the tricks of Portuguese cuisine in the Haarlemmerstraat. Eggs, honey, some flour and sugar, local ingredients from nearby farms, made for wonderful desert.

Torta com mel: mix 8 eggs, 100grs of sugar, 1 spoon of flour and 2 spoons of honey. Pour into thinly oiled baking tray of 30/30cm square and leave in preheated oven (180Celsius) for about 30 minutes, until the colour is light brown, with some deeper tones where the torta rises. Allow some deflating and cooling. Then lay it out on a clean cloth, sprinkled with sugar, and roll it up. Pour some honey on top and (cool some more and) serve.

May 6
New Arrivals
Jan and Merel arrived to continue from here the day after tomorrow to celebrate Jan's 50th aniversary hiding somewhere in the French Ardennes. Now he's an old friend, back from Zaak days. He ran the Europa restaurant in the Amsterdam Warmoesstraat, with Rob Nypels and Peter Mertens. Interesting to see what people are doing now. He's a 'creative therapist' and does his gouaches and photographs in stolen time. Last night dinner out with Isabelle and her new friend Ritsaert, who we got to know better than we would have back in NL. One of the advantages of having people around for several days. Later Alamut. 'Radio Free StGdB'. Synchronicity of concern. Sleepless in StGdB. My phone bill will be high with no local provider yet.

May 5
More Unexpected Guests
Gilberthe, R+r (Wednesday there's no school), our niece Eline and I visited Michael Schwarz and family in Crieur, their holiday home 42km south. In our absence Eline's friend Lot who stayed alone at the house had visitors and phonecalls all day. There's the sour woman from the post office in Varzy who's car I hit the other day when parking to get bread early in the morning. She claims less than 100FF (30 guilders) for a new license plate and will send the bill... There's different ways to introduce yourself to your new milieu. Then there was EDF to read the meters. Also neighbouring Christian returned, to plough our vegetable garden. His first attempt left us with some very rough furrows, much to the discontent of the former owners, who gave him a call to convince him to do a better job. In return he will collect the hay of our prairy and graze his cattle next fall. Also he will trim the hedge along the road. Inge called for Gilberthe about their visit next week. When we had all returned, out of the blue at 3pm Gilberthe's friend Petra Sauter from Amsterdam was at the gate. We toured her and wined her. She loved the place and continued her travel a few hours later.

The dormice (Glis glis, Paul came to the rescue for the English name of the zevenslaper) didn't eat the apple R+r served them. The Follopes told them they do not trust our smell. We see a lot of bees. There's two nests in two chimney's. One I smoked, the other, older one, the fire brigade will have to remove. Each night the kids hunt them from the bedroom before going to sleep. The other day Rolf called me from his bed when I was in the bathroom. There was a bee on his face. He stayed perfectly calm and waited for me to take it off. Brave kids, getting used to rural thrills and symbiosis. I found a dead hornet in the attic. Now they're a resistant species. We have two burnt out trees around the house where once they nested. They go after you and have a mean sting. You have to be violent.

Since we arrived I hadn't been on the barn's attic. Today I opened its doors and looked around. It's a huge volume. The roof and floor are good. With some isolation and windows it would make for great studio space.

May 4
More Basics
I could up nqp's frequency now that the upload's fine. Already I changed the chronology in #X. I like Paul's up and down chronology shift when notes are filed. Then they read into the present, while on the contrary his 'present attention' starts with the most recent note at the top and reads backwards in time. I bet he's got a script for that change. The Gootjes family visited us this morning; the parents studied with G. on Minerva. They brought six kids aged 12-20 and one friend. The Follopes came the afternoon: I learned some tractor mechanics basics and we roamed the field to determine the edibles, the trees, the poisonous weeds ('herbe de serpent'). We have what's probably a ginko tree in the garden. They did not like the ploughing Christian did and would give him a call. We are really lucky to have them. We shared apéritives.

May 3
Pros and Cons of Filtering
WhattaYouKnow?: "a 'good enough for me' definition of epistomology: what do you know and how do you know it?", says Paul, in today's Alamut, when I was just pondering agency again. From my current position agency is everything, being left out of the main news currents like I am. Bearing on the question of 'isolation' (my favorite state) is the question of 'who/what tells you what to know?' From Alamut to Le Monde, from visiting friends' reports to the Journal du Nièvre, from the previous owner's knowledge of every square inch of the property to ikebana Internet searches: I use old and new sources and it sure as hell's a different life from before, in which (in order to invent it, in order to re:invent myself) I need different information and to discuss different issues. Focuses shift. My main interest is: what do I urgently need to know now, for the near and longer term future, different from the past years, and how am I going to invest my existing knowledge and view on information and community in an entirely new knowledge economy, how will I benefit from that, who wants to share and exchange, who will pay. We shifted our position radically, we're still part of ongoing discourse—yet 'what to know' is still partly (some say increasingly less) a matter of 'what everyone should know', as much as it is an individual need.

Then of course there's still the traditional 'what to know'/'what to do' schism, in its never changing relation. You know what you can do?

-One of the insights of the Victorian Revival was that it was not necessarily a good thing for everyone to read a completely different newspaper in the morning; so the higher one rose in the society, the more similar one's Times became to one's peers'
(from: Neal Stephenson The Diamond Age)

He's got a new one out soon: Cryptonomicon. Hope Renee brings it back for me from New York, along with Nest#3. We knew it all along, crypto in the air... My last personal exhibition, back in 1993(...) was titled 'Kryptotheka', the cryptotheque. Damn it, I should get on the road again. SOS.

Any elite needs to share information in order to stay in power, or in its right mind. This goes from the ménage à deux to the totalitarian regimes, to the band of gipsies, to mob rule.

(By the way, I managed to put up nqpX by myself! Will this mean more frequent updates from now on? Probably. They're a different feel).

Vital Information
What's vital in any case? I need all the guidance that I can get to know my new situation. Hands-on knowledge. So I need to communicate with those in the know. I need to touch what they touch, go step by step, in a chest-to-chest conversation. I value their opinion on my process. Their routines will be my routines one day.

May 2
Tannay and Avallon
We left early for Tannay, to visit another vide grenier. At these local markets people 'empty their attics'. They're an absolute delight and with their combination of bric-a-brac, local food and wine and the occasional small fair attractions for the boys, we go to as many as we can. From this one I returned with the Villa du Moulin postcard that I previously borrowed form the former owner, who got his copy as a present from someone who bought it in Paris along the Seine... The first booth had it in its small collection of postcards and at FF35 it is now mine. The fair was typical of its kind and we spent another nice day under the finest summer conditions.

Later I drove Hugo-Aurore Immobilier-Versloot, our broker-beyond-brokerage (read: dear friend), who had joined us for an afternoon-night-morning, to Avallon where he was picked up by more prospective Dutch buyers to go south. In the car I asked him to look for a piece of land for me, to build. I really intend to find the finest small piece of France to put up a 2-4 person hide-out dwelling, a bare essence bunker-bungalow. With some land, hard access, in a high location.

May 1
Find France Closed
Apart for picking muguet or Lily of the Valley, and offering it to your beloved ones, France is closed today: Labor day. The bakery woman who tells us (Hugo, Lot, Rolf and myself) where we could still find some wild lilies is la seule courageuse opening shop for a few hours in the afternoon to sell her delicious bread. We find her location in the woods emptied and only after some intense digging we are able to bring home some small plants, with the bread.

les muguets, Lilys of the Valley
placeholder, les muguets

April 30
What can I say. Long time since we missed one out. We imagine Kristi to Adriaan, and Aya to Aart and Greet and all friends (apart from those who flee the masses) to be joining the search party. In the late afternoon we receive Gilberthe's sister Isabelle and family, bringing us herring, Oranjebitter, orange chocolate and other goodies. New cheeses.

April 29
I installed my turntable and opened the boxes containing my Vinyl treasure: Long Playing pleasure is mine. Twangs and whining from Jefferson Airplane's scratched grooves fill the air. In SF I heard Grace S. got kind of weird, hiding in the mountains on a pile of guns, after her former house burnt down (lit by the govs according to la Slick, who also stole her gold records). Some of the famous girls go nuts: we have La Bardot protecting seals, and a card-carrying member of Le Pen's Front National...

April 28
Detox Mode
Ever get a headache when exposed to fresh clean air and subtly changing temperatures? I do. I know the OD feeling of oxygen poisoning. I know when my body gets into detox mode. Usually I made it back to civilisation just in time, now I'm locked in at the kick-off mill. The past days I have the most wonderful head-aches when I wake up at 3:30am. In the daytime I'm sort of OK. Mood swings are good. But clean and green hurts.

New School
For the moulin, I'm developing plans. One time L'école perdu du vraie re:opens at an annex near me (and you) soon. Memory Mill.

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19990428: wheels are turning
—inventing new lives


best bits from correspondencies, attendencies and collected hard copy

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